Week 6 of the 2023 NFL season might have been the wildest to date, featuring multiple upsets and several outstanding performances from coaches and players. Here are the biggest winners and losers from the Sunday slate of games:
Biggest Winners, Losers of Week 6
Winner: Danielle Hunter, Minnesota Vikings
Not a lot has gone right for the Minnesota Vikings this season. They are 2-4, and star wide receiver Justin Jefferson will miss at least the next three games. The only positive is that Danielle Hunter is back to himself.
The 29-year-old edge rusher dealt with a back injury in 2021 but recorded 10.5 sacks in 17 games last season. It was a productive year for Hunter, but he still wasn’t quite 100 percent himself. But after six games, it's obvious Hunter is healthy and looks like one of the best pass rushers in the league again.
Hunter had two sacks in Week 6, improving his season total to eight and tying him with T.J. Watt for the league lead. He currently leads the Vikings in pressures (21), QB hits (eight), hurries (13) and sacks. Hunter is in the final year of his contract and could get a huge payday during the 2024 offseason. There might not be a player in the NFL who is having a better contract season than Hunter.
Loser: Cincinnati Bengals Offense
There was a belief among NFL circles that the only reason the Cincinnati Bengals offense was struggling was due to Joe Burrow’s calf injury. While that certainly played a part in their struggles, it wasn’t the only reason points were scarce.
The Bengals defeated the Seattle Seahawks, 17-13, but it had nothing to do with their offense. The Bengals had 214 total yards but only 63 yards on six second-half drives (excluding a kneel to end the game). They picked up just three first downs in the second half as the offense struggled to have a positive play. The only points they scored after halftime came after an interception, but the Bengals did not gain a single yard on the drive.
The Bengals are 3-3 entering their bye week. They’ve weathered a storm and are still in the hunt in the AFC North. The hope is that Burrow’s calf continues to improve, but coach Zac Taylor must find a way to jumpstart this offense. Even with a semi-healthy Burrow, this is one of the least explosive offenses in the NFL.
Winner: Jim Schwartz, Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns made the best coaching hire of the NFL offseason, bringing in grizzled veteran defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. Taking over a defense that finished No. 20 in points per game last season (22.4 PPG), he’s quickly turned the Browns into a juggernaut.
Schwartz showed his worth in Week 6, going up against the No. 1 ranked offense in the NFL. The San Francisco 49ers averaged more than 33 points per game this season and the Browns held them to 17 points and 215 yards. San Francisco averaged just 3.9 yards per play as it played one of the worst offensive games in the Kyle Shanahan era.
Schwartz has had a ton of success against Shanahan during his NFL career, winning eight of their nine meetings. He knows how to slow down Shanahan’s rushing attack and kept the 49ers in long down and distances.
Loser: DeAndre Hopkins, Tennessee Titans
This isn’t entirely the fault of DeAndre Hopkins, but he did decide to sign with the Tennessee Titans instead of other contenders during the offseason. Hopkins caught just one pass for 20 yards and it was the fifth time this season that he was held to fewer than 70 yards.
One thing that has been shocking about Hopkins' usage in Tennessee has been the lack of red zone work. According to TruMedia, Hopkins has just two receptions (on eight targets) for 12 yards in the red zone this season. Hopkins has not caught a touchdown, and things might get a lot worse if Ryan Tannehill is forced to miss time due to an injury.
The Titans head into their Week 7 bye with a record of 2-4. It might be time for the Titans to consider trading Hopkins to a contender that could better utilize him.
Winner: Tyreek Hill, Miami Dolphins
Tyreek Hill had another massive game, catching six passes for 163 yards and a touchdown. But that's not why he is on the list today. It's because of his consistency and what he has done for the Miami Dolphins offense.
When the Kansas City Chiefs traded Hill to the Dolphins, there was an expectation that his stats would take a major hit. That made sense because he left Patrick Mahomes in his prime for an unproven Tua Tagovailoa. However, not only has Hill continued to produce, but he's also made his teammates more productive. It's not often that a wide receiver can do that.
Just how good has Hill been with Tagovailoa in Miami? In the 18 games that Tagovailoa has started and finished, Hill has 126 receptions for 2,062 yards and 13 touchdowns. That means that Hill averages more than 114 receiving yards per game when Tagovailoa is the quarterback. The Dolphins average 30.0 points per game when both players are on the field and 37.1 points this season. That is incredible.
Hill already has 814 yards through six games, helping Tagovailoa be No. 1 in the MVP odds through six games. After a year-and-a-half, it's clear that Hill isn’t a product of Andy Reid and Mahomes. Instead, we can say that he is one of the most impactful receivers of the past decade.
Loser: New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints have had one of the NFL’s least exciting offenses over the past few years. The Saints averaged 19.4 points per game in 2022, which was understandable considering they started Andy Dalton and Jameis Winston at quarterback.
That is why adding Derek Carr was so important. Or so we thought. Carr has been a fine NFL quarterback, but the Saints offense continues to sputter. The Saints average just 18.1 points per game, and they’ve been held to fewer than 21 points in five of six games.
Carr threw for 351 yards in Week 6, but it only led to 13 points. Whenever the Saints have needed Carr to make a big play, he’s failed to do so. The Saints have played a pretty soft schedule, but their losses to the Green Bay Packers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Houston Texans (on Sunday) have been highly disappointing.
The Saints were favorites to win the NFC South this season now that Tom Brady retired. But through six games, the Saints (3-3) are tied with the Atlanta Falcons for the No. 2 spot in the division behind the Buccaneers. Carr hasn't elevated the talent around him, so it’s hard to be too optimistic about this offense and team going forward. Week 6 might have been their most disappointing and frustrating loss to date.
Loser: Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday should have been a walk in the park for the Philadelphia Eagles offense. The New York Jets were without Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed, their top two cornerbacks. Everything the Jets do on defense is based on having two elite cornerbacks. Without them, it’s a good, but certainly not great defense.
So that is why it was so surprising that Jalen Hurts played arguably the worst game of his career. The first of three interceptions that Hurts threw was on a third-and-8 at the Jets 46-yard line. The ball was deflected into the air and picked off by DT Quinnen Williams. That interception wasn’t on Hurts. But such is life as an NFL quarterback.
Jalen Hurts was pressured on a season-high 40% of his dropbacks despite being blitzed on a season-low 16% of his dropbacks, per @ESPNStatsInfo.
Hurts was pressured 20 times, his most in his last 36 games including playoffs.
— Tim McManus (@Tim_McManus) October 16, 2023
The second interception came after Hurts had his arm hit by DE Jermaine Johnson. The pass was picked off by Bryce Hall, but it was another turnover in Jets territory. Hurts' third interception was the worst of his career.
With a 14-12 lead, the Eagles were in a position to run the clock and eventually pin the Jets deep into their territory. With less than two minutes remaining, Hurts threw a back-breaking interception to Tony Adams that was returned inside the Eagles’ 20. A play later, the Jets scored the go-ahead touchdown.
Hurts had a chance to redeem himself on the next drive. Down four, Hurts had 1:46 left with two timeouts. But instead of leading a winning drive, the Eagles gained just 2 yards and Hurts nearly threw his fourth interception.
Hurts had just six interceptions in 2022, but he already has seven through six games. The Eagles are placing more on Hurts' shoulders this season, but so far, the offense hasn’t looked the same. It’s certainly not a bad offense, but it’s clear something is off with this unit. The Eagles are still in good shape but will need their star quarterback to play a lot better.
Marcus Mosher is an NFL writer with a decade of experience in podcasting and writing for various NFL websites, including Bleacher Report, Pro Football Focus and The Athletic. He is currently a managing editor at USA Today Sports Media Group and the host of the Locked On Cowboys Podcast. Marcus has been working full-time covering the NFL since 2015 and works as a betting expert for Gambling.com. You can follow him at @Marcus_Mosher.